Part 1 out of 11
Produced by Mary Munarin and David Widger
[NOTE: There is a list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making
an entire meal of them. D.W.]
THE CONFESSIONS OF HARRY LORREQUER, Volume 1
[By Charles James Lever (1806-1872)]
[Note: Though the title page has no author's name inscribed,
this work is generally attributed to Charles James Lever.]
Volume 1. (Chapters I. to X.)
"We talked of pipe-clay regulation caps--
Long twenty-fours--short culverins and mortars--
Condemn'd the 'Horse Guards' for a set of raps,
And cursed our fate at being in such quarters.
Some smoked, some sighed, and some were heard to snore;
Some wished themselves five fathoms 'neat the Solway;
And some did pray--who never prayed before--
That they might get the 'route' for Cork or Galway."
Sir George Hamilton Seymour, G.C.H.
My Dear Sir Hamilton,
If a feather will show how the wind blows, perhaps my dedicating to you
even as light matter as these Confessions may in some measure prove how
grateful I feel for the many kindnesses I have received from you in the
course of our intimacy. While thus acknowledging a debt, I must also
avow that another motive strongly prompts me upon this occasion. I am
not aware of any one, to whom with such propriety a volume of anecdote
and adventure should be inscribed, as to one, himself well known as an
inimitable narrator. Could I have stolen for my story, any portion of
the grace and humour with which I have heard you adorn many of your own,
while I should deem this offering more worthy of your acceptance, I
should also feel more confident of its reception by the public.
With every sentiment of esteem and regard,
Believe me very faithfully yours,
Bruxelles, December, 1839.
When first I set about recording the scenes which occupy these pages, I
had no intention of continuing them, except in such stray and scattered
fragments as the columns of a Magazine (FOOTNOTE: The Dublin University
Magazine.) permit of; and when at length I discovered that some interest
had attached not only to the adventures, but to their narrator, I would
gladly have retired with my "little laurels" from a stage, on which,
having only engaged to appear between the acts, I was destined to come
forward as a principal character.
Among the "miseries of human life," a most touching one is spoken of--the
being obliged to listen to the repetition of a badly sung song, because
some well-wishing, but not over discreet friend of the singer has called
loudly for an encore.
I begin very much to fear that something of the kind has taken place
here, and that I should have acted a wiser part, had I been contented
with even the still small voice of a few partial friends, and retired
from the boards in the pleasing delusion of success; but unfortunately,
the same easy temperament that has so often involved me before, has been
faithful to me here; and when you pretended to be pleased, unluckily, I
So much of apology for the matter--a little now for the manner of my
offending, and I have done. I wrote as I felt--sometimes in good
spirits, sometimes in bad--always carelessly--for, God help me, I can do
When the celibacy of the Fellows of Trinity College, Dublin, became an
active law in that University, the Board proceeded to enforce it, by
summoning to their presence all the individuals who it was well known had
transgressed the regulation, and among them figured Dr. S., many of whose
sons were at the same time students in the college. "Are you married,
Dr. S-----r?" said the bachelor vice-provost, in all the dignity and
pride of conscious innocence. "Married!" said the father of ten
children, with a start of involuntary horror;--"married?" "Yes sir,
married." "Why sir, I am no more married than the Provost." This was
quite enough--no further questions were asked, and the head of the
University preferred a merciful course towards the offender, to
repudiating his wife and disowning his children. Now for the
application. Certain captious and incredulous people have doubted the
veracity of the adventures I have recorded in these pages; I do not think
it necessary to appeal to concurrent testimony and credible witnesses for
their proof, but I pledge myself to the fact that every tittle I have
related is as true as that my name is Lorrequer--need I say more?
Another objection has been made to my narrative, and I cannot pass it by
without a word of remark;--"these Confessions are wanting in scenes of
touching and pathetic interest" (FOOTNOTE: We have the author's
permission to state, that all the pathetic and moving incidents of his
career he has reserved for a second series of "Confessions," to be
entitled "Lorrequer Married?"--Publisher's Note.)--true, quite true; but
I console myself on this head, for I remember hearing of an author whose
paraphrase of the book of Job was refused by a publisher, if he could not
throw a little more humour into it; and if I have not been more miserable
and more unhappy, I am very sorry for it on your account, but you must
excuse my regretting it on my own. Another story and I have done;--the
Newgate Calendar makes mention of a notorious housebreaker, who closed
his career of outrage and violence by the murder of a whole family, whose
house he robbed; on the scaffold he entreated permission to speak a few
words to the crowd beneath, and thus addressed them:--"My friends, it is
quite true I murdered this family; in cold blood I did it--one by one
they fell beneath my hand, while I rifled their coffers, and took forth
their effects; but one thing is imputed to me, which I cannot die without
denying--it is asserted that I stole an extinguisher; the contemptible
character of this petty theft is a stain upon my reputation, that I
cannot suffer to disgrace my memory." So would I now address you for all
the graver offences of my book; I stand forth guilty--miserably, palpably
guilty--they are mine every one of them; and I dare not, I cannot deny
them; but if you think that the blunders in French and the hash of
spelling so widely spread through these pages, are attributable to me;
on the faith of a gentleman I pledge myself you are wrong, and that I had
nothing to do with them. If my thanks for the kindness and indulgence
with which these hastily written and rashly conceived sketches have been
received by the press and the public, are of any avail, let me add, in
conclusion, that a more grateful author does not exist than
Arrival in Cork--Civic Festivities--Private Theatricals
Detachment Duty--The Burton Arms--Callonby
Life at Callonby--Love-making--Miss O'Dowd's Adventure
Botanical Studies--The Natural System preferable to the Linnaean
Puzzled--Explanation--Makes bad worse--The Duel
The Priest's Supper--Father Malachi and the Coadjutor--Major Jones and
The Lady's Letter--Peter and his Acquaintances--Too late
Congratulations--Sick Leave--How to pass the Board
The Road--Travelling Acquaintances--A Packet Adventure
Upset--Mind and Body
Cheltenham--Matrimonial Adventure--Showing how to make love for a friend
Dublin--Tom O'Flaherty--A Reminiscence of the Peninsula
Dublin--The Boarding-house--Select Society
Mems Of the North Cork
CHAPTER XVI* (The chapter # is a repeat)
Detachment Duty--An Assize Town
The Assize Town
A Day in Dublin
A Night at Howth
The Gen d'Arme
The Inn at Chantraine
Captain Trevanion's Adventure
Mr O'Leary's First Love
Mr O'Leary's Second Love
Early Recollections--A First Love
Thoughts upon Matrimony in general, and in the Army in particular--The
Knight of Kerry and Billy M'Cabe
The Two Letters
Mr O'Leary's Capture
A Reminscence of the East
A Day in the Phoenix
An Adventure in Canada
The Courier's Passport
A Night in Strasbourg
Jack Waller's Story
Inn at Munich
A WORD OF INTRODUCTION.
"Story! God bless you; I have none to tell, sir."
It is now many--do not ask me to say how many--years since I received
from the Horse Guards the welcome intelligence that I was gazetted to an
insigncy in his Majesty's __th Foot, and that my name, which had figured
so long in the "Duke's" list, with the words "a very hard case" appended,
should at length appear in the monthly record of promotions and
Since then my life has been passed in all the vicissitudes of war and
peace. The camp and the bivouac--the reckless gaiety of the mess-table
--the comfortless solitude of a French prison--the exciting turmoils of
active service--the wearisome monotony of garrison duty, I have alike
partaken of, and experienced. A career of this kind, with a temperament
ever ready to go with the humour of those about him will always be sure
of its meed of adventure. Such has mine been; and with no greater
pretension than to chronicle a few of the scenes in which I have borne a
part, and revive the memory of the other actors in them--some, alas! Now
no more--I have ventured upon these "Confessions."
If I have not here selected that portion of my life which most abounded
in striking events and incidents most worthy of recording, my excuse is
simply, because being my first appearance upon the boards, I preferred
accustoming myself to the look of the house, while performing the "Cock,"
to coming before the audience in the more difficult part of Hamlet.
As there are unhappily impracticable people in the world, who, as Curran
expressed it, are never content to know "who killed the gauger, if you
can't inform them who wore his corduroys"--to all such I would, in deep
humility, say, that with my "Confessions" they have nothing to do--I have
neither story nor moral--my only pretension to the one, is the detail of
a passion which marked some years of my life; my only attempt at the
other, the effort to show how prolific in hair-breadth 'scapes may a
man's career become, who, with a warm imagination and easy temper,
believes too much, and rarely can feign a part without forgetting that he
is acting. Having said thus much, I must once more bespeak the
indulgence never withheld from a true penitent, and at once begin my
ARRIVAL IN CORK--CIVIC FESTIVITIES--PRIVATE THEATRICALS.
It was on a splendid morning in the autumn of the year 181_ that the
Howard transport, with four hundred of his Majesty's 4_th Regt., dropped
anchor in the beautiful harbour of Cove; the sea shone under the purple
light of the rising sun with a rich rosy hue, beautifully in contrast
with the different tints of the foliage of the deep woods already tinged
with the brown of autumn. Spike Island lay "sleeping upon its broad
shadow," and the large ensign which crowns the battery was wrapped around
the flag-staff, there not being even air enough to stir it. It was still
so early, that but few persons were abroad; and as we leaned over the
bulwarks, and looked now, for the first time for eight long years, upon
British ground, many an eye filled, and many a heaving breast told how
full of recollections that short moment was, and how different our
feelings from the gay buoyancy with which we had sailed from that same
harbour for the Peninsula; many of our best and bravest had we left
behind us, and more than one native to the land we were approaching had
found his last rest in the soil of the stranger. It was, then, with a
mingled sense of pain and pleasure, we gazed upon that peaceful little
village, whose white cottages lay dotted along the edge of the harbour.
The moody silence our thoughts had shed over us was soon broken: the
preparations for disembarking had begun, and I recollect well to this
hour how, shaking off the load that oppressed my heart, I descended the
gangway, humming poor Wolfe's well-known song--
"Why, soldiers, why
Should we be melancholy, boys?"
And to this elasticity of spirits--whether the result of my profession,
or the gift of God--as Dogberry has it--I know not--I owe the greater
portion of the happiness I have enjoyed in a life, whose changes and
vicissitudes have equalled most men's.
Drawn up in a line along the shore, I could scarce refrain from a smile
at our appearance. Four weeks on board a transport will certainly not
contribute much to the "personnel" of any unfortunate therein confined;
but when, in addition to this, you take into account that we had not
received new clothes for three years--if I except caps for our
grenadiers, originally intended for a Scotch regiment, but found to be
all too small for the long-headed generation. Many a patch of brown and
grey, variegated the faded scarlet, "of our uniform," and scarcely a pair
of knees in the entire regiment did not confess their obligations to a
blanket. But with all this, we shewed a stout, weather-beaten front,
that, disposed as the passer-by might feel to laugh at our expense, very
little caution would teach him it was fully as safe to indulge it in his
The bells from every steeple and tower rung gaily out a peal of welcome
as we marched into "that beautiful city called Cork," our band playing
"Garryowen"--for we had been originally raised in Ireland, and still
among our officers maintained a strong majority from that land of punch,
priests, and potatoes--the tattered flag of the regiment proudly waving
over our heads, and not a man amongst us whose warm heart did not bound
behind a Waterloo medal. Well--well! I am now--alas, that I should say
it--somewhat in the "sear and yellow;" and I confess, after the
experience of some moments of high, triumphant feeling, that I never
before felt within me, the same animating, spirit-filling glow of
delight, as rose within my heart that day, as I marched at the head
of my company down George's-street.
We were soon settled in barracks; and then began a series of
entertainments on the side of the civic dignities of Cork, which soon led
most of us to believe that we had only escaped shot and shell to fall
less gloriously beneath champagne and claret. I do not believe there is
a coroner in the island who would have pronounced but the one verdict
over the regiment--"Killed by the mayor and corporation," had we so
First of all, we were dined by the citizens of Cork--and, to do them
justice, a harder drinking set of gentlemen no city need boast; then we
were feasted by the corporation; then by the sheriffs; then came the
mayor, solus; then an address, with a cold collation, that left eight of
us on the sick-list for a fortnight; but the climax of all was a grand
entertainment given in the mansion-house, and to which upwards of two
thousand were invited. It was a species of fancy ball, beginning by a
dejeune at three o'clock in the afternoon, and ending--I never yet met
the man who could tell when it ended; as for myself, my finale partook a
little of the adventurous, and I may as well relate it.
After waltzing for about an hour with one of the prettiest girls I ever
set eyes upon, and getting a tender squeeze of the hand, as I restored
her to a most affable-looking old lady in a blue turban and a red velvet
gown who smiled most benignly on me, and called me "Meejor," I retired to
recruit for a new attack, to a small table, where three of ours were
quaffing "ponche a la Romaine," with a crowd of Corkagians about them,
eagerly inquiring after some heroes of their own city, whose deeds of
arms they were surprised did not obtain special mention from "the Duke."
I soon ingratiated myself into this well-occupied clique, and dosed them
with glory to their hearts' content. I resolved at once to enter into
their humour; and as the "ponche" mounted up to my brain I gradually
found my acquaintanceship extend to every family and connexion in the
"Did ye know Phil Beamish of the 3_th, sir?" said a tall, red-faced,
red-whiskered, well-looking gentleman, who bore no slight resemblance
to Feargus O'Connor.
"Phil Beamish!" said I. "Indeed I did, sir, and do still; and there is
not a man in the British army I am prouder of knowing." Here, by the
way, I may mention that I never heard the name till that moment.
"You don't say so, sir?" said Feargus--for so I must call him, for
shortness sake. "Has he any chance of the company yet, sir?"
"Company!" said I, in astonishment. "He obtained his majority three
months since. You cannot possibly have heard from lately, or you would
have known that?"
"That's true, sir. I never heard since he quitted the 3_th to go to
Versailles, I think they call it, for his health. But how did he get the
"Why, as to the company, that was remarkable enough!" said I, quaffing
off a tumbler of champagne, to assist my invention. "You know it was
about four o'clock in the afternoon of the 18th that Napoleon ordered
Grouchy to advance with the first and second brigade of the Old Guard and
two regiments of chasseurs, and attack the position occupied by Picton
and the regiments under his command. Well, sir, on they came, masked by
the smoke of a terrific discharge of artillery, stationed on a small
eminence to our left, and which did tremendous execution among our poor
fellows--on they came, Sir; and as the smoke cleared partially away we
got a glimpse of them, and a more dangerous looking set I should not
desire to see: grizzle-bearded, hard-featured, bronzed fellows, about
five-and-thirty or forty years of age; their beauty not a whit improved
by the red glare thrown upon their faces and along the whole line by each
flash of the long twenty-fours that were playing away to the right. Just
at this moment Picton rode down the line with his staff, and stopping
within a few paces of me, said, 'They're coming up; steady, boys; steady
now: we shall have something to do soon.' And then, turning sharply
round, he looked in the direction of the French battery, that was
thundering away again in full force, 'Ah, that must be silenced,' said
he, 'Where's Beamish?'--"Says Picton!" interrupted Feargus, his eyes
starting from their sockets, and his mouth growing wider every moment, as
he listed with the most intense interest. "Yes," said I, slowly; and
then, with all the provoking nonchalance of an Italian improvisatore, who
always halts at the most exciting point of his narrative, I begged a
listener near me to fill my glass from the iced punch beside him. Not a
sound was heard as I lifted the bumper to my lips; all were breathless in
their wound-up anxiety to hear of their countryman who had been selected
by Picton--for what, too, they knew not yet, and, indeed, at this instant
I did not know myself, and nearly laughed outright, for the two of our
men who had remained at the table had so well employed their interval of
ease as to become very pleasantly drunk, and were listening to my
confounded story with all the gravity and seriousness in the world.
"'Where's Beamish?' said Picton. 'Here, sir,' said Phil stepping out
from the line and touching his cap to the general, who, taking him apart
for a few minutes, spoke to him with great animation. We did not know
what he said; but before five minutes were over, there was Phil with
three companies of light-bobs drawn up at our left; their muskets at the
charge, they set off at a round trot down the little steep which closed
our flank. We had not much time to follow their movements, for our own
amusement began soon; but I well remember, after repelling the French
attack, and standing in square against two heavy charges of cuirassiers,
the first thing I saw where the French battery had stood, was Phil
Beamish and about a handful of brave fellows, all that remained from the
skirmish. He captured two of the enemy's field-pieces, and was 'Captain
Beamish' on the day after."
"Long life to him," said at least a dozen voices behind and about me,
while a general clinking of decanters and smacking of lips betokened that
Phil's health with all the honours was being celebrated. For myself, I
was really so engrossed by my narrative, and so excited by the "ponche,"
that I saw or heard very little of what was passing around, and have only
a kind of dim recollection of being seized by the hand by "Feargus," who
was Beamish's brother, and who, in the fullness of his heart, would have
hugged me to his breast, if I had not opportunely been so overpowered as
to fall senseless under the table.
When I first returned to consciousness, I found myself lying exactly
where I had fallen. Around me lay heaps of slain--the two of "ours"
amongst the number. One of them--I remember he was the adjutant--held in
his hand a wax candle (three to the pound). Whether he had himself
seized it in the enthusiasm of my narrative of flood and field, or it had
been put there by another, I know not, but he certainly cut a droll
figure. The room we were in was a small one off the great saloon, and
through the half open folding-door I could clearly perceive that the
festivities were still continued. The crash of fiddles and French horns,
and the tramp of feet, which had lost much of their elasticity since the
entertainments began, rang through my ears, mingled with the sounds "down
the middle," "hands across," "here's your partner, Captain." What hour
of the night or morning it then was, I could not guess; but certainly the
vigor of the party seemed little abated, if I might judge from the
specimens before me, and the testimony of a short plethoric gentleman,
who stood wiping his bald head, after conducting his partner down
twenty-eight couple, and who, turning to his friend, said, "Oh, the
distance is nothing, but it is the pace that kills."
The first evidence I shewed of any return to reason, was a strong
anxiety to be at my quarters; but how to get there I knew not. The faint
glimmering of sense I possessed told me that "to stand was to fall," and
I was ashamed to go on all-fours, which prudence suggested.
At this moment I remembered I had brought with me my cane, which, from a
perhaps pardonable vanity, I was fond of parading. It was a present from
the officers of my regiment--many of them, alas, since dead--and had a
most splendid gold head, with a stag at the top--the arms of the
regiment. This I would not have lost for any consideration I can
mention; and this now was gone! I looked around me on every side; I
groped beneath the table; I turned the sleeping sots who lay about in no
very gentle fashion; but, alas, it was gone. I sprang to my feet and
only then remembered how unfit I was to follow up the search, as tables,
chairs, lights, and people seemed all rocking and waving before me.
However, I succeeded in making my way, through one room into another,
sometimes guiding my steps along the walls; and once, as I recollect,
seeking the diagonal of a room, I bisected a quadrille with such
ill-directed speed, as to run foul of a Cork dandy and his partner who
were just performing the "en avant:" but though I saw them lie tumbled
in the dust by the shock of my encounter--for I had upset them--I still
held on the even tenor of my way. In fact, I had feeling for but one
loss; and, still in pursuit of my cane, I reached the hall-door. Now,
be it known that the architecture of the Cork Mansion House has but one
fault, but that fault is a grand one, and a strong evidence of how
unsuited English architects are to provide buildings for a people whose
tastes and habits they but imperfectly understand--be it known, then,
that the descent from the hall-door to the street was by a flight of
twelve stone steps. How I should ever get down these was now my
difficulty. If Falstaff deplored "eight yards of uneven ground as being
three score and ten miles a foot," with equal truth did I feel that
these twelve awful steps were worse to me than would be M'Gillicuddy
Reeks in the day-light, and with a head clear from champagne.
While I yet hesitated, the problem resolved itself; for, gazing down upon
the bright gravel, brilliantly lighted by the surrounding lamps, I lost
my balance, and came tumbling and rolling from top to bottom, where I
fell upon a large mass of some soft substance, to which, in all
probability, I owe my life. In a few seconds I recovered my senses, and
what was my surprise to find that the downy cushion beneath, snored most
audibly! I moved a little to one side, and then discovered that in
reality it was nothing less than an alderman of Cork, who, from his
position, I concluded had shared the same fate with myself; there he lay,
"like a warrior taking his rest," but not with his "martial cloak around
him," but a much more comfortable and far more costly robe--a scarlet
gown of office--with huge velvet cuffs and a great cape of the same
material. True courage consists in presence of mind; and here mine came
to my aid at once: recollecting the loss I had just sustained, and
perceiving that all was still about me, with that right Peninsular maxim,
that reprisals are fair in an enemy's camp, I proceeded to strip the
slain; and with some little difficulty--partly, indeed, owing to my
unsteadiness on my legs--I succeeded in denuding the worthy alderman, who
gave no other sign of life during the operation than an abortive effort
to "hip, hip, hurra," in which I left him, having put on the spoil, and
set out on my way the the barrack with as much dignity of manner as I
could assume in honour of my costume. And here I may mention (en
parenthese) that a more comfortable morning gown no man ever possessed,
and in its wide luxuriant folds I revel, while I write these lines.
When I awoke on the following day I had considerable difficulty in
tracing the events of the past evening. The great scarlet cloak,
however, unravelled much of the mystery, and gradually the whole of my
career became clear before me, with the single exception of the episode
of Phil Beamish, about which my memory was subsequently refreshed--but I
anticipate. Only five appeared that day at mess; and, Lord! What
spectres they were!--yellow as guineas; they called for soda water
without ceasing, and scarcely spoke a word to each other. It was plain
that the corporation of Cork was committing more havoc among us than
Corunna or Waterloo, and that if we did not change our quarters, there
would be quick promotion in the corps for such as were "seasoned
gentlemen." After a day or two we met again together, and then what
adventures were told--each man had his own story to narrate; and from the
occurrences detailed, one would have supposed years had been passing,
instead of the short hours of an evening party. Mine were indeed among
the least remarkable; but I confess that the air of vraisemblance
produced by my production of the aldermanic gown gave me the palm above
Such was our life in Cork--dining, drinnking, dancing, riding steeple
chases, pigeon shooting, and tandem driving--filling up any little
interval that was found to exist between a late breakfast, and the time
to dress for dinner; and here I hope I shall not be accused of a tendency
to boasting, while I add, that among all ranks and degrees of men, and
women too, there never was a regiment more highly in estimation than the
4_th. We felt the full value of all the attentions we were receiving;
and we endeavoured, as best we might, to repay them. We got up Garrison
Balls and Garrison Plays, and usually performed one or twice a week
during the winter. Here I shone conspicuously; in the morning I was
employed painting scenery and arranging the properties; as it grew later,
I regulated the lamps, and looked after the foot-lights, mediating
occasionally between angry litigants, whose jealousies abound to the full
as much, in private theatricals, as in the regular corps dramatique.
Then, I was also leader in the orchestra; and had scarcely to speak the
prologues. Such are the cares of greatness: to do myself justice, I did
not dislike them; though, to be sure, my taste for the drama did cost me
a little dear, as will be seen in the sequel.
We were then in the full career of popularity. Our balls pronounced the
very pleasantest; our plays far superior to any regular corps that had
ever honoured Cork with their talents; when an event occurred which threw
a gloom over all our proceedings, and finally put a stop to every project
for amusement, we had so completely given ourselves up to. This was no
less than the removal of our Lieutenant-Colonel. After thirty years of
active service in the regiment he then commanded, his age and
infirmities, increased by some severe wounds, demanded ease and repose;
he retired from us, bearing along with him the love and regard of every
man in the regiment. To the old officers he was endeared by long
companionship, and undeviating friendship; to the young, he was in every
respect as a father, assisting by his advice, and guiding by his counsel;
while to the men, the best estimate of his worth appeared in the fact,
that corporeal punishment was unknown in the corps. Such was the man we
lost; and it may well be supposed, that his successor, who, or whatever
he might be, came under circumstances of no common difficulty amongst us;
but, when I tell, that our new Lieutenant-Colonel was in every respect
his opposite, it may be believed how little cordiality he met with.
Lieutenant-Colonel Carden--for so I shall call him, although not his real
name--had not been a month at quarters, when he proved himself a regular
martinet; everlasting drills, continual reports, fatigue parties, and
ball practice, and heaven knows what besides, superseded our former
morning's occupation; and, at the end of the time I have metioned, we,
who had fought our way from Albuera to Waterloo, under some of the
severest generals of division, were pronounced a most disorderly and
ill-disciplined regiment, by a Colonel, who had never seen a shot fired
but at a review in Hounslow, or a sham-battle in the Fifteen Acres. The
winter was now drawing to a close--already some little touch of spring
was appearing; as our last play for the season was announced, every
effort to close with some little additional effort was made; and each
performer in the expected piece was nerving himself for an effort beyond
his wont. The Colonel had most unequivocally condemned these plays; but
that mattered not; they came not within his jurisdiction; and we took no
notice of his displeasure, further than sending him tickets, which were
as immediately returned as received. From being the chief offender, I
had become particularly obnoxious; and he had upon more than one
occasion expressed his desire for an opportunity to visit me with his
vengeance; but being aware of his kind intentions towards me, I took
particular care to let no such opportunity occur.
On the morning in question, then, I had scarcely left my quarters, when
one of my brother officers informed me that the Colonel had made a great
uproar, that one of the bills of the play had been put up on his door
--which, with his avowed dislike to such representations, he considered as
intended to insult him: he added, too, that the Colonel attributed it to
me. In this, however, he was wrong--and, to this hour, I never knew who
did it. I had little time, and still less inclination, to meditate upon
the Colonel's wrath--the theatre had all my thoughts; and indeed it was a
day of no common exertion, for our amusements were to conclude with a
grand supper on the stage, to which all the elite of Cork were invited.
Wherever I went through the city--and many were my peregrinations--the
great placard of the play stared me in the fact; and every gate and
shuttered window in Cork, proclaimed, "THE PART OF OTHELLO, BY MR.
As evening drew near, my cares and occupations were redoubled. My Iago
I had fears for--'tis true he was an admirable Lord Grizzle in Tom Thumb
--but then--then I had to paint the whole company, and bear all their
abuse besides, for not making some of the most ill-looking wretches,
perfect Apollos; but, last of all, I was sent for, at a quarter to
seven, to lace Desdemona's stays. Start not, gentle reader--my fair
Desdemona--she "who might lie by an emperor's side, and command him
tasks"--was no other than the senior lieutenant of the regiment, and who
was a great a votary of the jolly god as honest Cassio himself. But I
must hasten on--I cannot delay to recount our successes in detail. Let
it suffice to say, that, by universal consent, I was preferred to Kean;
and the only fault the most critical observer could find to the
representative of Desdemona, was a rather unlady-like fondness for
snuff. But, whatever little demerits our acting might have displayed,
were speedily forgotten in a champagne supper. There I took the head of
the table; and, in the costume of the noble Moor, toasted, made
speeches, returned thanks, and sung songs, till I might have exclaimed
with Othello himself, "Chaos was come again;"--and I believe I owe my
ever reaching the barrack that night to the kind offices of Desdemona,
who carried me the greater part of the way on her back.
The first waking thoughts of him who has indulged over-night, was not
among the most blissful of existence, and certainly the pleasure is not
increased by the consciousness that he is called on to the discharge of
duties to which a fevered pulse and throbbing temples are but ill-suited.
My sleep was suddenly broken in upon the morning after the play, but a
"row-dow-dow" beat beneath my window. I jumped hastily from my bed, and
looked out, and there, to my horror, perceived the regiment under arms.
It was one of our confounded colonel's morning drills; and there he stood
himself with the poor adjutant, who had been up all night, shivering
beside him. Some two or three of the officers had descended; and the
drum was now summoning the others as it beat round the barrack-square.
I saw there was not a moment to lose, and proceeded to dress with all
despatch; but, to my misery, I discovered every where nothing but
theatrical robes and decorations--there lay a splendid turban, here a
pair of buskins--a spangled jacket glittered on one table, and a jewelled
scimitar on the other. At last I detected my "regimental small-clothes,"
&c. Most ignominiously thrust into a corner, in my ardour for my Moorish
robes the preceding evening.
I dressed myself with the speed of lightning; but as I proceeded in my
occupation-guess my annoyance to find that the toilet-table and glass,
ay, and even the basin-stand, had been removed to the dressing-room of
the theatre; and my servant, I suppose, following his master's example,
was too tipsy to remember to bring them back; so that I was unable to
procure the luxury of cold water--for now not a moment more remained--the
drum had ceased, and the men had all fallen in. Hastily drawing on my
coat, I put on my shako, and buckling on my belt as dandy-like as might
be, hurried down the stairs to the barrack-yard. By the time I got down,
the men were all drawn up in line along the square; while the adjutant
was proceeding to examine their accoutrements, &c. as he passed down.
The colonel and the officers were standing in a group, but no conversing.
The anger of the commanding officer appeared still to continue, and there
was a dead silence maintained on both sides. To reach the spot where
they stood, I had to pass along part of the line. In doing so, how shall
I convey my amazement at the faces that met me--a general titter ran
along the entire rank, which not even their fears for consequences seemed
able to repress--for an effort, on the part of many, to stifle the laugh,
only ended in a still louder burst of merriment. I looked to the far
side of the yard for an explanation, but there was nothing there to
account for it. I now crossed over to where the officers were standing,
determining in my own mind to investigate the occurrence thoroughly, when
free from the presence of the colonel, to whom any representation of ill
conduct always brought a punishment far exceeding the merits of the case.
Scarcely had I formed this resolve, when I reached the group of officers;
but the moment I came near, one general roar of laughter saluted me,--the
like of which I never before heard--I looked down at my costume,
expecting to discover that, in my hurry to dress, I had put on some of
the garments of Othello--No: all was perfectly correct. I waited for a
moment, till the first burst of their merriment over, I should obtain a
clue to the jest. But their mirth appeared to increase. Indeed poor
G----, the senior major, one of the gravest men in Europe, laughed till
the tears ran down his cheeks; and such was the effect upon me, that I
was induced to laugh too--as men will sometimes, from the infectious
nature of that strange emotion; but, no sooner did I do this, than their
fun knew no bounds, and some almost screamed aloud, in the excess of
their merriment; just at this instant the Colonel, who had been examining
some of the men, approached our group, advancing with an air of evident
displeasure, as the shouts of loud laughter continued. As he came up,
I turned hastily round, and touching my cap, wished him good morning.
Never shall I forget the look he gave me. If a glance could have
annihilated any man, his would have finished me. For a moment his face
became purple with rage, his eye was almost hid beneath his bent brow,
and he absolutely shook with passion.
"Go, Sir," said he at length, as soon as he was able to find utterance
for his words; "Go, sir, to your quarters; and before you leave them, a
court-martial shall decide, if such continued insult to your commanding
officer, warrants your name being in the Army List."
"What the devil can all this mean?" I said, in a half-whisper, turning to
the others. But there they stood, their handkerchiefs to their mouths,
and evidently choking with suppressed laughter.
"May I beg, Colonel C_____," said I----
"To your quarters, sir," roared the little man, in the voice of a lion.
And with a haughty wave of his hand, prevented all further attempt on my
part to seek explanation.
"They're all mad, every man of them," I muttered, as I betook byself
slowly back to my rooms, amid the same evidences of mirth my first
appearance had excited--which even the Colonel's presence, feared as
he was, could not entirely subdue.
With the air of a martyr I trod heavily up the stairs, and entered my
quarters, meditating within myself, awful schemes for vengeance, on the
now open tyranny of my Colonel; upon whom, I too, in my honest rectitude
of heart, vowed to have "a court-martial." I threw myself upon a chair,
and endeavoured to recollect what circumstance of the past evening could
have possibly suggested all the mirth in which both officers and men
seemed to participate equally; but nothing could I remember, capable of
solving the mystery,--surely the cruel wrongs of the manly Othello were
no laughter-moving subject.
I rang the bell hastily for my servant. The door opened.
"Stubbes," said I, "are you aware"----
I had only got so far in my question, when my servant, one of the most
discreet of men, put on a broad grin, and turned away towards the door to
hide his face.
"What the devil does this mean?" said I, stamping with passion; "he is as
bad as the rest. Stubbes," and this I spoke with the most grave and
severe tone, "what is the meaning of the insolence?"
"Oh, sir," said the man; "Oh, sir, surely you did not appear on parade
with that face?" and then he burst into a fit of the most uncontrollable
Like lightning a horrid doubt shot across my mind. I sprung over to the
dressing-glass, which had been replaced, and oh: horror of horrors!
There I stood as black as the king of Ashantee. The cursed dye which I
had put on for Othello, I had never washed off,--and there with a huge
bear-skin shako, and a pair of black, bushy whiskers, shone my huge,
black, and polished visage, glowering at itself in the looking-glass.
My first impulse, after amazement had a little subsided, was to laugh
immoderately; in this I was joined by Stubbes, who, feeling that his
mirth was participated in, gave full vent to his risibility. And,
indeed, as I stood before the glass, grinning from ear to ear, I felt
very little surprise that my joining in the laughter of my brother
officers, a short time before, had caused an increase of their merriment.
I threw myself upon a sofa, and absolutely laughed till my sides ached,
when, the door opening, the adjutant made his appearance. He looked for
a moment at me, then at Stubbes, and then burst out himself, as loud as
either of us. When he had at length recovered himself, he wiped his face
with his handkerchief, and said, with a tone of much gravity:--
"But, my dear Lorrequer, this will be a serious--a devilish serious
affair. You know what kind of man Colonel C____ is; and you are aware,
too, you are not one of his prime favourites. He is firmly convinced
that you intended to insult him, and nothing will convince him to the
contrary. We told him how it must have occurred, but he will listen to
I thought for one second before I replied, my mind, with the practised
rapidity of an old campaigner, took in all the pros and cons of the case;
I saw at a glance, it were better to brave the anger of the Colonel, come
in what shape it might, than be the laughing-stock of the mess for life,
and with a face of the greatest gravity and self-possession, said,
"Well, adjutant, the Colonel is right. It was no mistake! You know I
sent him tickets yesterday for the theatre. Well, he returned them; this
did not annoy me, but on one account, I had made a wager with Alderman
Gullable, that the Colonel should see me in Othello--what was to be done?
Don't you see, now, there was only one course, and I took it, old boy,
and have won my bet!"
"And lost your commission for a dozen of champagne, I suppose," said the
"Never mind, my dear fellow," I repled; "I shall get out of this scrape,
as I have done many others."
"But what do you intend doing?"
"Oh, as to that," said I, "I shall, of course, wait on the Colonel
immediately; pretend to him that it was a mere blunder, from the
inattention of my servant--hand over Stubbes to the powers that punish,
(here the poor fellow winced a little,) and make my peace as well as I
can. But, adjutant, mind," said I, "and give the real version to all our
fellows, and tell them to make it public as much as they please."
"Never fear," said he, as he left the room still laughing, "they shall
all know the true story; but I wish with all my heart you were well out
I now lost no time in making my toilet, and presented myself at the
Colonel's quarters. It is no pleasure for me to recount these passages
in my life, in which I have had to hear the "proud man's contumely." I
shall therefore merely observe, that after a very long interview, the
Colonel accepted my apologies, and we parted.
Before a week elapsed, the story had gone far and near; every
dinner-table in Cork had laughed at it. As for me, I attained immortal
honour for my tact and courage. Poor Gullable readily agreed to favour
the story, and gave us a dinner as the lost wager, and the Colonel was
so unmercifully quizzed on the subject, and such broad allusions to his
being humbugged were given in the Cork papers, that he was obliged to
negociate a change of quarters with another regiment, to get out of the
continual jesting, and in less than a month we marched to Limerick, to
relieve, as it was reported, the 9th, ordered for foreign service, but,
in reality, only to relieve Lieut.-Colonel C____, quizzed beyond
However, if the Colonel had seemed to forgive, he did not forget, for the
very second week after our arrival in Limerick, I received one morning at
my breakfast-table, the following brief note from our adjutant:--
"My Dear Lorrequer--The Colonel has received orders to despatch two
companies to some remote part of the county Clare; as you have 'done
the state some service,' you are selected for the beautiful town of
Kilrush, where, to use the eulogistic language of the geography
books, 'there is a good harbour, and a market plentifully supplied
with fish.' I have just heard of the kind intention in store for
you, and lose no time in letting you know.
"God give you a good deliverance from the 'garcons lances,' as the
Moniteur calls the Whiteboys, and believe me ever your's, Charles
I had scarcely twice read over the adjutant's epistle, when I received
an official notification from the Colonel, directing me to proceed to
Kilrush, then and there to afford all aid and assistance in suppressing
illicit distillation, when called on for that purpose; and other similar
duties too agreeable to recapitulate. Alas! Alas! Othello's
occupation: was indeed gone! The next morning at sun-rise saw me on my
march, with what appearance of gaiety I could muster, but in reality very
much chopfallen at my banishment, and invoking sundry things upon the
devoted head of the Colonel, which he would by no means consider as
How short-sighted are we mortals, whether enjoying all the pump and state
of royalty, or marching like myself at the head of a company of his
Little, indeed, did I anticipate that the Siberia to which I fancied I
was condemned should turn out the happiest quarters my fate ever threw me
into. But this, including as it does, one of the most important events
of my life, I reserve for another chapter.--
"What is that place called, Sergeant?"--"Bunratty Castle, sir,"
"Where do we breakfast?"--"At Clare Island, sir."
"March away, boys!"
DETACHMENT DUTY--THE BURTON ARMS--CALLONBY.
For a week after my arrival at Kilrush, my life was one of the most
dreary monotony. The rain, which had begun to fall as I left Limerick,
continued to descend in torrents, and I found myself a close prisoner in
the sanded parlour of "mine inn." At no time would such "durance vile"
have been agreeable; but now, when I contrasted it with all I had left
behind at head quarters, it was absolutely maddening. The pleasant
lounge in the morning, the social mess, and the agreeable evening party,
were all exchanged for a short promenade of fourteen feet in one
direction, and twelve in the other, such being the accurate measurement
of my "salle a manger." A chicken, with legs as blue as a Highlander's
in winter, for my dinner; and the hours that all Christian mankind were
devoting to pleasant intercourse, and agreeable chit-chat, spent in
beating that dead-march to time, "the Devil's Tattoo," upon my ricketty
table, and forming, between whiles, sundry valorous resolutions to reform
my life, and "eschew sack and loose company."
My front-window looked out upon a long, straggling, ill-paved street,
with its due proportion of mud-heaps, and duck pools; the houses on
either side were, for the most part, dingy-looking edifices, with
half-doors, and such pretension to being shops as a quart of meal, or
salt, displayed in the window, confers; or sometimes two tobacco-pipes,
placed "saltier-wise," would appear the only vendible article in the
establishment. A more wretched, gloomy-looking picture of woe-begone
poverty, I never beheld.
If I turned for consolation to the back of the house, my eyes fell upon
the dirty yard of a dirty inn; the half-thatched cow-shed, where two
famished animals mourned their hard fate,--"chewing the cud of sweet and
bitter fancy;" the chaise, the yellow post-chaise, once the pride and
glory of the establishment, now stood reduced from its wheels, and
ignominiously degraded to a hen-house; on the grass-grown roof a cock had
taken his stand, with an air of protective patronage to the feathered
"To what base uses must we come at last."
That chaise, which once had conveyed the blooming bride, all blushes and
tenderness, and the happy groom, on their honeymoon visit to Ballybunion
and its romantic caves, or to the gigantic cliffs and sea-girt shores of
Moher--or with more steady pace and becoming gravity had borne along the
"going judge of assize,"--was now become a lying-in hospital for fowl,
and a nursery for chickens. Fallen as I was myself from my high estate,
it afforded me a species of malicious satisfaction to contemplate these
sad reverses of fortune; and I verily believe--for on such slight
foundation our greatest resolves are built--that if the rain had
continued a week longer, I should have become a misanthropist for life.
I made many inquiries from my landlady as to the society of the place,
but the answers I received only led to greater despondence. My
predecessor here, it seemed, had been an officer of a veteran battalion,
with a wife, and that amount of children which is algebraically expressed
by an X (meaning an unknown quantity). He, good man, in his two years'
sojourn here, had been much more solicitous about his own affairs, than
making acquaintance with his neighbours; and at last, the few persons who
had been in the habit of calling on "the officer," gave up the practice;
and as there were no young ladies to refresh Pa's memory on the matter,
they soon forgot completely that such a person existed--and to this happy
oblivion I, Harry Lorrequer, succeeded, and was thus left without benefit
of clergy to the tender mercies of Mrs. Healy of the Burton arms.
As during the inundation which deluged the whole country around I was
unable to stir from the house, I enjoyed abundant opportunity of
cultivating the acquaintance of my hostess, and it is but fair that my
reader, who has journeyed so far with me, should have an introduction.
Mrs. Healy, the sole proprietor of the "Burton Arms," was of some five
and fifty--"or by'r lady," three score years, of a rubicund and hale
complexion; and though her short neck and corpulent figure might have set
her down as "doubly hazardous," she looked a good life for many years to
come. In height and breadth she most nearly resembled a sugar-hogshead,
whose rolling, pitching motion, when trundled along on edge, she emulated
in her gait. To the ungainliness of her figure her mode of dressing not
a little contributed. She usually wore a thick linsey-wolsey gown, with
enormous pockets on either side, and, like Nora Creina's, it certainly
inflicted no undue restrictions upon her charms, but left
"Every beauty free,
To sink or swell as heaven pleases."
Her feet--ye gods! Such feet--were apparelled in listing slippers, over
which the upholstery of her ancles descended, and completely relieved the
mind of the spectator as to the superincumbent weight being
disproportioned to the support; I remember well my first impression on
seeing those feet and ancles reposing upon a straw footstool, while she
took her afternoon dose, and I wondered within myself if elephants were
liable to the gout. There are few countenances in the world, that if
wishing to convey an idea of, we cannot refer to some well-known
standard; and thus nothing is more common than to hear comparisons with
"Vulcan--Venus--Nicodemus," and the like; but in the present case, I am
totally at a loss for any thing resembling the face of the worth Mrs.
Healy, except it be, perhaps, that most ancient and sour visage we used
to see upon old circular iron rappers formerly--they make none of them
now--the only difference being, that Mrs. Healy's nose had no ring
through it; I am almost tempted to add, "more's the pity."
Such was she in "the flesh;" would that I could say, she was more
fascinating in the "spirit!" but alas, truth, from which I never may
depart in these "my confessions," constrains me to acknowledge the
reverse. Most persons in this miserable world of ours, have some
prevailing, predominating characteristic, which usually gives the tone
and colour to all their thoughts and actions, forming what we denominate
temperament; this we see actuating them, now more, now less; but rarely,
however, is this great spring of action without its moments of repose.
Not so with her of whom I have been speaking. She had but one passion
--but, like Aaron's rod, it had a most consuming tendency--and that was to
scold, and abuse, all whom hard fate had brought within the unfortunate
limits of her tyranny. The English language, comprehensive as it is,
afforded not epithets strong enough for her wrath, and she sought among
the more classic beauties of her native Irish, such additional ones as
served her need, and with this holy alliance of tongues, she had been for
years long, the dread and terror of the entire village.
"The dawning of morn, the day-light sinking," ay, and even the "night's
dull hours," it was said, too, found her labouring in her congenial
occupation; and while thus she continued to "scold and grow fat," her
inn, once a popular and frequented one, became gradually less and less
frequented, and the dragon of the Rhine-fells did not more effectually
lay waste the territory about him, than did the evil influence of her
tongue spread desolation and ruin around her. Her inn, at the time of my
visit, had not been troubled with even a passing traveller for many
months; and, indeed, if I had any, even the least foreknowledge of the
character of my hostess, its privacy should have still remained uninvaded
for some time longer.
I had not been many hours installed, when I got a specimen of her powers;
and before the first week was over, so constant and unremitting were her
labours in this way, that I have upon the occasion of a slight lull in
the storm, occasioned by her falling asleep, actually left my room to
inquire if anything had gone wrong, in the same was as the miller is said
to awake, if the mill stops. I trust I have said enough, to move the
reader's pity and compassion for my situation--one more miserable it is
difficult to conceive. It may be though that much might be done by
management, and that a slight exercise of the favourite Whig plan of
concilliation, might avail. Nothing of the kind. She was proof against
all such arts; and what was still worse, there was no subject, no
possible circumstance, no matter, past, present, or to come, that she
could not wind by her diabolical ingenuity, into some cause of offence;
and then came the quick transition to instant punishment. Thus, my
apparently harmless inquiry as to the society of the neighbourhood,
suggested to her--a wish on my part to make acquaintance--therefore to
dine out--therefore not to dine at home--consequently to escape paying
half-a-crown and devouring a chicken--therefore to defraud her, and
behave, as she would herself observe, "like a beggarly scullion, with his
four shillings a day, setting up for a gentleman," &c.
By a quiet and Job-like endurance of all manner of taunting suspicions,
and unmerited sarcasms, to which I daily became more reconciled, I
absolutely rose into something like favour; and before the first month of
my banishment expired, had got the length of an invitation to tea, in her
own snuggery--an honour never known to be bestowed on any before, with
the exception of Father Malachi Brennan, her ghostly adviser; and even
he, it is said, never ventured on such an approximation to intimacy,
until he was, in Kilrush phrase, "half screwed," thereby meaning more
than half tipsy. From time to time thus, I learned from my hostess such
particulars of the country and its inhabitants as I was desirous of
hearing; and among other matters, she gave me an account of the great
landed proprietor himself, Lord Callonby, who was daily expected at his
seat, within some miles of Kilrush, at the same time assuring me that I
need not be looking so "pleased and curling out my whiskers;" "that
they'd never take the trouble of asking even the name of me." This,
though neither very courteous, nor altogether flattering to listen to,
was no more than I had already learned from some brother officers who
knew this quarter, and who informed me that the Earl of Callonby, though
only visiting his Irish estates every three or four years, never took the
slightest notice of any of the military in his neighbourhood; nor, indeed
did he mix with the country gentry, confining himself to his own familyl,
or the guests, who usually accompanied him from England, and remained
during his few weeks' stay. My impression of his lordship was therefore
not calculated to cheer my solitude by any prospect of his rendering ti
The Earl's family consisted of her ladyship, an only son, nearly of age,
and two daughters; the eldest, Lady Jane, had the reputation of being
extremely beautiful; and I remembered when she came out in London, only
the year before, hearing nothing but praises of the grace and elegance of
her manner, united to the most classic beauty of her face and figure.
The second daughter was some years younger, and said to be also very
handsome; but as yet she had not been brought into society. Of the son,
Lord Kilkee, I only heard that he had been a very gay fellow at Oxford,
where he was much liked, and although not particularly studious, had
given evidence of talent.
Such were the few particulars I obtained of my neighbours, and thus
little did I know of those who were so soon to exercise a most important
influence upon my future life.
After some weeks' close confinement, which, judging from my feelings
alone, I should have counted as many years, I eagerly seized the
opportunity of the first glimpse of sunshine to make a short excursion
along the coast; I started early in the morning, and after a long stroll
along the bold headlands of Kilkee, was returning late in the evening to
my lodgings. My path lay across a wild, bleak moor, dotted with low
clumps of furze, and not presenting on any side the least trace of
habitation. In wading through the tangled bushes, my dog "Mouche"
started a hare; and after a run "sharp, short, and decisive," killed it
at the bottom of a little glen some hundred yards off.
I was just patting my dog, and examining the prize, when I heard a
crackling among the low bushes near me; and on looking up, perceived,
about twenty paces distant, a short, thick-set man, whose fustian jacket
and leathern gaiters at once pronounced him the gamekeeper; he stood
leaning upon his gun, quietly awaiting, as it seemed, for any movement on
my part, before he interfered. With one glance I detected how matters
stood, and immediately adopting my usual policy of "taking the bull by
the horns," called out, in a tone of very sufficient authority,
"I say, my man, are you his lordship's gamekeeper?"
Taking off his hat, the man approached me, and very respectfully informed
me that he was.
"Well then," said I, "present this hare to his lordship with my respects;
here is my card, and say I shall be most happy to wait on him in the
morning, and explain the circumstance."
The man took the card, and seemed for some moments undecided how to act;
he seemed to think that probably he might be ill-treating a friend of his
lordship's if he refused; and on the other hand might be merely
"jockeyed" by some bold-faced poacher. Meanwhile I whistled my dog close
up, and humming an air, with great appearance of indifference, stepped
out homeward. By this piece of presence of mind I saved poor "Mouche;"
for I saw at a glance, that, with true gamekeeper's law, he had been
destined to death the moment he had committed the offence.
The following morning, as I sat at breakfast, meditating upon the events
of the preceding day, and not exactly determined how to act, whether to
write to his lordship explaining how the matter occurred, or call
personally, a loud rattling on the pavement drew me to the window. As
the house stood at the end of a street, I could not see in the direction
the noise came; but as I listened, a very handsome tandem turned the
corner of the narrow street, and came along towards the hotel at a long,
sling trot; the horses were dark chestnuts, well matched, and shewing a
deal of blood. The carriage was a dark drab, with black wheels; the
harness all of the same colour. The whole turn-out--and I was an amateur
of that sort of thing--was perfect; the driver, for I come to him last,
as he was the last I looked at, was a fashionable looking young fellow,
plainly, but knowingly, dressed, and evidently handling the "ribbon,"
like an experienced whip.
After bringing his nags up to the inndoor in very pretty style, he gave
the reins to his servant, and got down. Before I was well aware of it,
the door of my room opened, and the gentleman entered with a certain easy
air of good breeding, and saying,
"Mr. Lorrequer, I presume--" introduced himself as Lord Kilkee.
I immediately opened the conversation by an apology for my dog's
misconduct on the day before, and assured his lordship that I knew the
value of a hare in a hunting country, and was really sorry for the
"Then I must say," replied his lordship, "Mr. Lorrequer is the only
person who regrets the matter; for had it not been for this, it is more
than probable we should never have known we were so near neighbours; in
fact, nothing could equal our amazement at hearing were playing the
'Solitaire' down here. You must have found it dreadfully heavy, 'ad have
thought us downright savages.' But then I must explain to you, that my
father has made some 'rule absolute' about visiting when down here. And
though I know you'll not consider it a compliment, yet I can assure you
there is not another man I know of he would pay attention to, but
yourself. He made two efforts to get here this morning, but the gout
'would not be denied,' and so he deputed a most inferior 'diplomate;' and
now will you let me return with some character from my first mission, and
inform my friends that you will dine with us to-day at seven--a mere
family party; but make your arrangements to stop all night and to-morrow:
we shall find some work for my friend there on the hearth; what do you
call him, Mr. Lorrequer?"
"'Mouche'--come here, 'Mouche.'"
"Ah 'Mouche,' come here, my fine fellow--a splendid dog, indeed; very
tall for a thorough-bred; and now you'll not forget, seven, 'temps
militaire,' and so, sans adieu."
And with these words his lordship shook me heartily by the hand; and
before two minutes had elapsed, had wrapped his box-coat once more across
him, and was round the corner.
I looked for a few moments on the again silent street, and was almost
tempted to believe I was in a dream, so rapidly had the preceding moments
passed over; and so surprised was I to find that the proud Earl of
Callonby, who never did the "civil thing" any where, should think proper
to pay attention to a poor sub in a marching regiment, whose only claim
on his acquaintance was the suspicion of poaching on his manor. I
repeated over and over all his lordship's most polite speeches, trying to
solve the mystery of them; but in vain: a thousand explanations occurred,
but none of them I felt at all satisfactory; that there was some mystery
somewhere, I had no doubt; for I remarked all through that Lord Kilkee
laid some stress upon my identity, and even seemed surprised at my being
is such banishment. "Oh," thought I at last, "his lordship is about to
get up private theatricals, and has seen my Captain Absolute, or perhaps
my Hamlet"--I could not say "Othello" even to myself--"and is anxious to
get 'such unrivalled talent' even 'for one night only.'"
After many guesses this seemed the nearest I could think of; and by the
time I had finished my dressing for dinner, it was quite clear to me I
had solved all the secret of his lordship's attentions.
The road to "Callonby" was beautiful beyond any thing I had ever seen in
Ireland. For upwards of two miles it led along the margin of the lofty
cliffs of Moher, now jutting out into bold promontories, and again
retreating, and forming small bays and mimic harbours, into which the
heavy swell of the broad Atlantic was rolling its deep blue tide. The
evening was perfectly calm, and at a little distance from the shore the
surface of the sea was without a ripple. The only sound breaking the
solemn stillness of the hour, was the heavy plash of the waves, as in
minute peals they rolled in upon the pebbly beach, and brought back with
them at each retreat, some of the larger and smoother stones, whose
noise, as they fell back into old ocean's bed, mingled with the din of
the breaking surf. In one of the many little bays I passed, lay three or
four fishing smacks. The sails were drying, and flapped lazily against
the mast. I could see the figures of the men as they passed backwards ad
forwards upon the decks, and although the height was nearly eight hundred
feet, could hear their voices quite distinctly. Upon the golden strand,
which was still marked with a deeper tint, where the tide had washed,
stood a little white cottage of some fisherman--at least, so the net
before the door bespoke it. Around it, stood some children, whose merry
voices and laughing tones sometimes reached me where I was standing. I
could not but think, as I looked down from my lofty eyrie, upon that
little group of boats, and that lone hut, how much of the "world" to the
humble dweller beneath, lay in that secluded and narrow bay. There, the
deep sea, where their days were passed in "storm or sunshine,"--there,
the humble home, where at night they rested, and around whose hearth lay
all their cares and all their joys. How far, how very far removed from
the busy haunts of men, and all the struggles and contentions of the
ambitious world; and yet, how short-sighted to suppose that even they had
not their griefs and sorrows, and that their humble lot was devoid of the
inheritance of those woes, which all are heirs to.
I turned reluctantly, from the sea-shore to enter the gate of the park,
and my path in a few moments was as completely screened from all prospect
of the sea, as though it had lain miles inland. An avenue of tall and
ancient lime trees, so dense in their shadows as nearly to conceal the
road beneath, led for above a mile through a beautiful lawn, whose
surface, gently undulating, and studded with young clumps, was dotted
over with sheep. At length, descending by a very steep road, I reached a
beautiful little stream, over which a rustic bridge was thrown. As I
looked down upon the rippling stream beneath, on the surface of which the
dusky evening flies were dipping, I made a resolve, if I prospered in his
lordship's good graces, to devote a day to the "angle" there, before I
left the country. It was now growing late, and remember Lord Kilkee's
intimation of "sharp seven," I threw my reins over my cob, "Sir Roger's"
neck, (for I had hitherto been walking,) and cantered up the steep hill
before me. When I reached the top, I found myself upon a broad table
land, encircled by old and well-grown timber, and at a distance, most
tastefully half concealed by ornamental planting, I could catch some
glimpse of Callonby. Before, however, I had time to look about me, I
heard the tramp of horses' feet behind, and in another moment two ladies
dashed up the steep behind, and came towards me, at a smart gallop,
followed by a groom, who, neither himself nor his horse, seemed to relish
the pace of his fair mistresses. I moved off the road into the grass to
permit them to pass; but no sooner had they got abreast of me, than Sir
Roger, anxious for a fair start, flung up both heels at once, pricked up
his ears, and with a plunge that very nearly threw me from the saddle,
set off at top speed. My first thought was for the ladies beside me,
and, to my utter horror, I now saw them coming alongin full gallop; their
horses had got off the road, and were, to my thinking, become quite
unmanageable. I endeavoured to pull up, but all in vain. Sir Roger had
got the bit between his teeth, a favourite trick of his, and I was
perfectly powerless to hold him by this time, they being mounted on
thoroughbreds, got a full neck before me, and the pace was not
tremendous, on we all came, each horse at his utmost stretch; they were
evidently gaining from the better stride of their cattle, and will it be
believed, or shall I venture to acknowledge it in these my confessions,
that I, who a moment before, would have given my best chance of
promotion, to be able to pull in my horse, would now have "pledged my
dukedom" to be able to give Sir Roger one cut of the whip unobserved. I
leave it to the wise to decipher the rationale, but such is the fact. It
was complete steeple-chasing, and my blood was up.
On we came, and I now perceived that about two hundred yards before me
stood an iron gate and piers, without any hedge or wall on either side;
before I could conjecture the meaning of so strange a thing in the midst
of a large lawn, I saw the foremost horse, now two or three lengths
before the other, still in advance of me, take two or three short
strides, and fly about eight feet over a sunk fence--the second followed
in the same style, the riders sitting as steadily as in the gallop. It
was now my turn, and I confess, as I neared the dyke, I heartily wished
myself well over it, for the very possibility of a "mistake" was
maddening. Sir Roger came on at a slapping pace, and when within two
yards of the brink, rose to it, and cleared it like a deer. By the time
I had accomplished this feat, not the less to my satisfaction, that both
ladies had turned in the saddles to watch me, they were already far in
advance; they held on still at the same pace, round a small copse which
concealed them an instant from my view, and which, when I passed, I
perceived that they had just reached the hall door, and were dismounting.
On the steps stood a tall, elderly-looking, gentleman-like person, who I
rightly conjectured was his lordship. I heard him laughing heartily as I
came up. I at last succeeded in getting Sir Roger to a canter, and when
about twenty yards from where the group were standing, sprung off, and
hastened up to make my apologies as I best might, for my unfortunate
runaway. I was fortunately spared this awkwardness of an explanation,
for his lordship, approaching me with his hand extended, said--
"Mr. Lorrequer is most welcome at Callonby. I cannot be mistaken, I am
sure--I have the pleasure of addressing the nephew of my old friend, Sir
Guy Lorrequer of Elton. I am indeed most happy to see you, and not the
less so, that you are safe and sound, which, five minutes since, I assure
you I had my fears for--"
Before I could assure his lordship that my fears were all for my
competitors in the race--for such in reality they were--he introduced me
to the two ladies, who were still standing beside him--Lady Jane
Callonby; Mr. Lorrequer; Lady Catherine."
"Which of you, young ladies, may I ask, planned this escapade, for I see
by your looks, it was no accident?"
"I think, papa," said Lady Jane, "you must question Mr. Lorrequer on that
head; he certainly started first."
"I confess, indeed," said I, "such was the case."
"Well, you must confess, too, you were distanced," said Lady Jane, at the
same time, most terribly provoked, to be quizzed on such a matter; that
I, a steeple-chase horseman of the first water, should be twitted by a
couple of young ladies, on the score of a most manly exercise. "But
come," said his lordship, "the first bell has rung long since, and I am
longing to ask Mr. Lorrequer all about my old college friend of forty
years ago. So, ladies, hasten your toilet, I beseech you."
With these words, his lordship, taking my arm, led me into the
drawing-room, where we had not been many minutes till we were joined
by her ladyship, a tall stately handsome woman, of a certain age;
resolutely bent upon being both young and beautiful, in spite of time
and wrinkles; her reception of me, though not possessing the frankness
of his lordship, was still very polite, and intended to be even
gracious. I now found by the reiterated inquiries for my old uncle, Sir
Guy, that he it was, and not Hamlet, to whom I owed my present notice,
and I must include it among my confessions, that it was about the first
advantage I ever derived from the relationship. After half an hour's
agreeable chatting, the ladies entered, and then I had time to remark
the extreme beauty of their appearance; they were both wonderfully like,
and except that Lady Jane was taller and more womanly, it would have
been almost impossible to discriminate between them.
Lady Jane Callonby was then about twenty years of age, rather above the
middle size, and slightly disposed towards embonpoint; her eye was of the
deepest and most liquid blue, and rendered apparently darker, by long
lashes of the blackest jet--for such was the colour of her hair; her nose
slightly, but slightly, deviated from the straightness of the Greek, and
her upper lip was faultless, as were her mouth and chin; the whole lower
part of the face, from the perfect "chiselling," and from the character
of her head, had certainly a great air of hauteur, but the extreme
melting softness of her eyes took from this, and when she spoke, there
was a quiet earnestness in her mild and musical voice, that disarmed you
at once of connecting the idea of self with the speaker; the word
"fascinating," more than any other I know of, conveys the effect of her
appearance, and to produce it, she had more than any other woman I ever
met, that wonderful gift, the "l'art de plaire."
I was roused from my perhaps too earnest, because unconscious gaze, at
the lovely figure before me, by his Lordship saying, "Mr. Lorrequer, her
Ladyship is waiting for you." I accordingly bowed, and, offering my arm,
led her into the dinner-room. And here I draw rein for the present,
reserving for my next chapter--My Adventure at Callonby.
LIFE AT CALLONBY--LOVE-MAKING--MISS O'DOWD'S ADVENTURE.
My first evening at Callonby passed off as nearly all first evenings do
every where. His lordship was most agreeable, talked much of my uncle,
Sir Guy, whose fag he had been at Eton half a century before, promised me
some capital shooting in his preserves, discussed the state of politics;
and, as the second decanter of port "waned apace," grew wondrous
confidential, and told me of his intention to start his son for the
county at the next general election, such being the object which had
now conferred the honour of his presence on his Irish estates.
Her ladyship was most condescendingly civil, vouchsafed much tender
commiseration for my "exile," as she termed my quarters in Kilrush;
wondered how I could possibly exist in a marching regiment, (who had
never been in the cavalry in my life!) Spoke quite feelingly on my
kindness in joining their stupid family party, for they were living, to
use her own phrase, "like hermits;" and wound up all by a playful
assurance that as she perceived, from all my answers, that I was bent on
preserving a strict incognito, she would tell no tales about me on her
return to "Town." Now, it may readily be believed, that all this, and
many more of her ladyship's allusions, were a "Chaldee manuscript" to me;
that she knew certain facts of my family and relations, was certain; but
that she had interwoven in the humble web of my history, a very pretty
embroidery of fiction was equally so; and while she thus ran on, with
innumerable allusions to Lady Marys and Lord Johns, who she pretended to
suppose were dying to hear from me, I could not help muttering to myself
with good Christopher Sly, "And all this be true--then Lord be thanked
for my good amends;" for up to that moment I was an ungrateful man for
all this high and noble solicitude. One dark doubt shot for an instant
across my brain. Maybe her ladyship had "registered a vow" never to
syllable a name unchronicled by Debrett, or was actually only mystifying
me for mere amusement. A minute's consideration dispelled this fear;
for I found myself treated "en Seigneur" by the whole family. As for
the daughters of the house, nothing could possibly be more engaging than
their manner. The eldest, Lady Jane, was pleased from my near
relationship to her father's oldest friend to receive me, "from the
first," on the most friendly footing; while, with the younger, Lady
Catherine, from her being less 'maniere' than her sister, my progress was
even greater; and thus, before we separated for the night, I contrived to
"take up my position" in such a fashion, as to be already looked upon as
one of the family party, to which object, Lord and indeed Lady Callonby
seemed most willing to contribute, and made me promise to spend the
entire of the following day at Callonby, and as many of the succeeding
ones as my military duties would permit.
As his lordship was wishing me "good night" at the door of the
drawing-room, he said, in a half whisper,
"We were ignorant yesterday, Mr. Lorrequer, how soon we should have had
the pleasure of seeing you here; and you are therefore condemned to a
small room off the library, it being the only one we can insure you as
being well aired. I must therefore apprize you that you are not to be
shocked at finding yourself surrounded by every member of my family,
hung up in frames around you. But as the room is usually my own
snuggery, I have resigned it without any alteration whatever."
The apartment for which his lordship had so strongly apologized, stood in
very pleasing contrast to my late one in Kilrush. The soft Persian
carpet, on which one's feet sank to the very ankles; the brightly
polished dogs, upon which a blazing wood fire burned; the well
upholstered fauteuils which seemed to invite sleep without the trouble of
lying down for it; and last of all, the ample and luxurious bed, upon
whose rich purple hangings the ruddy glare of the fire threw a most
mellow light, was all a pleasing exchange for the "garniture" of the
"Certes, Harry Lorrequer," said I, as I threw myself upon a small ottoman
before the fire in all the slippered case, and abandon of a man who has
changed a dress-coat for a morning-gown; "Certes, thou art destined for
great things; even here, where fate had seemed 'to do its worst' to thee,
a little paradise opens, and what, to ordinary mortals had proved but a
'flat, stale, and most unprofitable' quarter, presents to thee all the
accumulated delight of a hospitable mansion, a kind, almost friendly,
host, a condescending Madame Mere, and daughters too! Ah ye Gods! But
what is this;" and here, for the first time, lifting up my eyes, I
perceived a beautiful water-colour drawing in the style of "Chalon,"
which was placed above the chimney-piece. I rose at once, and taking a
candle, proceeded to examine it more minutely. It was a portrait of Lady
Jane, a full-length too, and wonderfully like; there was more complexion,
and perhaps more roundness in the figure than her present appearance
would justify; but if any thing was gained in brilliancy, it was
certainly lost in point of expression; and I infinitely preferred her
pale, but beautifully fair countenance, to the rosy cheek of the picture;
the figure was faultless; the same easy grace, the result of perfect
symmetry and refinement together, which only one in a thousand of even
handsome girls possess, was pourtrayed to the life. The more I looked,
the more I felt charmed with it. Never had I seen any thing so truly
characteristic as this sketch, for it was scarcely more. It was after
nearly an hour's quiet contemplation, that I began to remember the
lateness of the night; an hour, in which my thoughts had rambled from the
lovely object before me, to wonder at the situation in which I found
myself placed; for there was so much of "empressement" towards me, in the
manner of every member of the family, coupled with certain mistakes as to
my habits and acquaintances, as left me perfectly unable to unravel the
mystery which so evidently surrounded me. "Perhaps," thought I, "Sir Guy
has written in my behalf to his lordship. Oh, he would never do any
thing half so civil. Well, to be sure, I shall astonish them at head
quarters; they'll not believe this. I wonder if Lady Jane saw my
'Hamlet;' for they landed in Cork from Bristol about that time. She is
indeed a most beautiful girl. I wish I were a marquis, if it were only
for her sake. Well, my Lord Callonby, you may be a very wise man in the
House of Lords; but, I would just ask, is it exactly prudent to introduce
into your family on terms of such perfect intimacy, a young, fascinating,
well-looking fellow, of four-and-twenty, albeit only a subaltern, with
two such daughters as you have? Peut etre! One thing is certain--I have
no cause of complaint; and so, good night, Lady Jane"--and with those
words I fell asleep, to dream of the deepest blue eyes, and the most
melting tones that ever reduced a poor lieutenant in a marching regiment
to curse his fate, that he could not call the Commander of the Forces his
When I descended to the breakfast-room, I found the whole family
assembled in a group around Lord Kilkee, who had just returned from a
distant part of the county, where he had been canvassing the electors,
and spouting patriotism the day before. He was giving an account of his
progress with much spirit and humour as I entered, but, on seeing me,
immediately came forward, and shook hands with me like an old
acquaintance. By Lord Callonby and the ladies I was welcomed also
with much courtesy and kindness, ad some slight badinage passed upon my
sleeping, in what Lord Kilkee called the "Picture Gallery," which, for
all I knew to the contrary, contained but one fair portrait. I am not a
believer in Mesmer; but certainly there must have been some influence at
work--very like what we hear of "magnetism"--for before the breakfast was
concluded, there seemed at once to spring up a perfect understanding
between this family and myself, which made me feel as much 'chez moi',
as I had ever done in my life; and from that hour I may date an intimacy
which every succeeding day but served to increase.
After breakfast Lord Callonby consigned me to the guidance of his son,
and we sallied forth to deal destruction amongst the pheasants, with
which the preserves were stocked; and here I may observe, 'en passant',
that with the single exception of fox-hunting, which was ever a passion
with me, I never could understand that inveterate pursuit of game to
which some men devote themselves--thus, grouse-shooting, and its
attendant pleasures, of stumping over a boggy mountain from day-light
till dark, never had much attraction for me; and, as to the delights of
widgeon and wild-duck shooting, when purchased by sitting up all night in
a barrel, with your eye to the bung, I'll none of it--no, no! Give me
shooting or angling merely as a divertimento, a pleasant interlude
between breakfast and luncheon-time, when, consigning your Manton to a
corner, and the game keeper "to the dogs," you once more humanize your
costume to take a canter with the daughters of the house; or, if the day
look loweringly, a match of billiards with the men.
I have ever found that the happiest portions of existence are the most
difficult to chronicle. We may--nay, we must, impart our miseries and
annoyances to our many "dear friends," whose forte is sympathy or
consolation--and all men are eloquent on the subject of their woes; not
so with their joys: some have a miser-like pleasure in hoarding them up
for their own private gratification; others--and they are prudent--feel
that the narrative is scarcely agreeable even to their best friends; and
a few, of whom I confess myself one, are content to be happy without
knowing why, and to have pleasant souvenirs, without being able to
Such must be my apology for not more minutely entering upon an account of
my life at Callonby. A fortnight had now seen me 'enfonce', the daily
companion of two beautiful girls in all their walks and rides, through a
romantic, unfrequented country, seeing but little of the other members of
the family; the gentlemen being entirely occupied by their election
tactics, and Lady Callonby being a late riser, seldom appeared before the
dinner hour. There was not a cliff upon the bold and rocky coast we did
not climb, not a cave upon the pebbly beach unvisited; sometimes my fair
companions would bring a volume of Metastasio down to the little river
where I used to angle; and the "gentle craft" was often abandoned for the
heart-thrilling verses of that delightful poet. Yes, many years have
passed over, and these scenes are still as fresh in my memory as though
they had been of yesterday. In my memory, I say, as for thee
"Qui sa si te
Ti sovrerai di me."
At the end of three weeks the house became full of company, from the
garret to the cellar. Country gentlemen and their wives and daughters
came pouring in, on every species of conveyance known since the flood;
family coaches, which, but for their yellow panels, might have been
mistaken for hearses, and high barouches, the "entree" to which was
accomplished by a step-ladder, followed each other in what appeared a
never-ending succession; and here I may note an instance of the anomalous
character of the conveyances, from an incident to which I was a witness
at the time.
Among the visitors on the second day came a maiden lady from the
neighbourhood of Ennistimon, Miss Elizabeth O'Dowd, the last of a very
old and highly respectable family in the county, and whose extensive
property, thickly studded with freeholders, was a strong reason for her
being paid every attention in Lord Callonby's power to bestow; Miss Betty
O'Dowd--for so she was generally styled--was the very personification of
an old maid; stiff as a ramrod, and so rigid in observance of the
proprieties of female conduct, that in the estimation of the Clare
gentry, Diana was a hoyden compared to her.
Miss Betty lived, as I have said, near Ennistimon, and the road from
thence to Callonby at the time I speak of--it was before Mr. Nimmo--was a
like the bed of a mountain torrent as a respectable highway; there were
holes that would have made a grave for any maiden lady within fifty
miles; and rocks thickly scattered, enough to prove fatal to the
strongest wheels that ever issued from "Hutton's." Miss O'Dowd knew this
well; she had upon one occasion been upset in travelling it--and a
slate-coloured silk dress bore the dye of every species of mud and mire
to be found there, for many a year after, to remind her of her
misfortune, and keep open the wound of her sorrow. When, therefore, the
invitation to Callonby arrived, a grave council of war was summoned, to
deliberate upon the mode of transit, for the honour could not be
declined, "coute qui coute." The chariot was out of the question;
Nicholas declared it would never reach the "Moraan Beg," as the first
precipice was called; the inside car was long since pronounced unfit for
hazardous enterprise; and the only resource left, was what is called in
Hibernian parlance, a "low-backed car," that is, a car without any back
whatever; it being neither more nor less than the common agricultural
conveyance of the country, upon which, a feather bed being laid, the
farmers' wives and daughters are generally conveyed to fairs, wakes, and
stations, &c. Putting her dignity, if not in her pocket, at least
wherever it could be most easily accommodated, Miss O'Dowd placed her
fair self, in all the plenitude of her charms and the grandeur of a
"bran new green silk," a "little off the grass, and on the bottle,"
(I love to be particular,) upon this humble voiture, and set out on her
way, if not "rejoicing," at least consoled by Nicholas, that "It 'id be
black dark when they reached the house, and the devil a one 'id be the
wiser than if she came in a coach and four." Nicholas was right; it was
perfectly dark on their arrival at Callonby, and Miss O'Dowd having
dismounted, and shook her plumage, a little crumpled by her
half-recumbent position for eight miles, appeared in the drawing-room,
to receive the most courteous attentions from Lady Callonby, and from
his lordship the most flattering speeches for her kindness in risking
herself and bringing her horses on such a dreadful road, and assured her
of his getting a presentment the very next assizes to repair it; "For we
intend, Miss O'Dowd," said he, "to be most troublesome neighbours to you
The evening passed off most happily. Miss O'Dowd was delighted with her
hosts, whose character she resolved to maintain in spite of their
reputation for pride and haughtiness. Lady Jane sang an Irish melody for
her, Lady Callonby gave her slips of a rose geranium she got from the
Princess Augusta, and Lord Kilkee won her heart by the performance of
that most graceful step 'yclept "cover the buckle" in an Irish jig. But,
alas! how short-lived is human bliss, for while this estimable lady
revelled in the full enjoyment of the hour, the sword of Damocles hung
suspended above her head; in plain English, she had, on arriving at
Callonby, to prevent any unnecessary scrutiny into the nature of her
conveyance, ordered Nicholas to be at the door punctually at eleven; and
then to take an opportunity of quietly slipping open the drawing-room
door, and giving her an intimation of it, that she might take her leave
at once. Nicholas was up to time, and having disposed the conveyance
under the shadow of the porch, made his way to the door of the
drawing-room unseen and unobserved. He opened it gently and
noiselessly, merely sufficient to take a survey of the apartment, in
which, from the glare of the lights, and the busy hum of voices, he was
so bewildered that it was some minutes before he recognized his
mistress. At last he perceived her; she was seated at a card-table,
playing whist with Lord Callonby for her partner. Who the other players
were, he knew not. A proud man was Nicholas, as he saw his mistress
thus placed, actually sitting, as he afterwards expressed it, "forenint
the Lord," but his thoughts were bent on other matters, and it was no
time to indulge his vauntings.
He strove for some time patiently, to catch her eye, for she was so
situated as to permit of this, but without success. He then made a
slight attempt to attract her attention by beckoning with his finger; all
in vain. "Oh murther," said he, "what is this for? I'll have to spake
"Four by honours," said his lordship, "and the odd trick. Another
double, I believe, Miss O'Dowd."
Miss O'Dowd nodded a graceful assent, while a sharp-looking old dowager
at the side of the table called out, "a rubber of four on, my Lord;" and
now began an explanation from the whole party at once. Nicholas saw this
was his time, and thought that in the melee, his hint might reach his
mistress unobserved by the remainder of the company. He accordingly
protruded his head into the room, and placing his finger upon the side of
his nose, and shutting one eye knowingly, with an air of great secrecy,
whispered out, "Miss Betty--Miss Betty, alanah!" For some minutes the
hum of the voices drowned his admonitions--but as, by degrees waxing
warmer in the cause, he called out more loudly,--every eye was turned to
the spot from whence these extraordinary sounds proceeded; and certainly
the appearance of Nicholas at the moment was well calculated to astonish
the "elegans" of a drawing room. With his one eye fixed eagerly in the
direction of his mistress, his red scratch wig pushed back off his
forehead, in the eagerness of his endeavour to be heard, there he stood,
perfectly unmindful of all around, save Miss O'Dowd herself. It may well
be believed, that such an apparition could not be witnessed with gravity,
and, accordingly a general titter ran through the room, the whist party
still contending about odd tricks and honours, being the only persons
insensible to the mirth around them--"Miss Betty, arrah, Miss Betty,"
said Nicholas with a sigh that converted the subdued laughter of the
guests into a perfect burst of mirth.
"Eh," said his lordship, turning round; "what is this? We are losing
something excellent, I fear."
At this moment, he caught a glimpse of Nicholas, and, throwing himself
back in this chair, laughed immoderately. It was now Miss Betty's turn;
she was about to rise from the table, when the well-known accents of
Nicholas fell upon her ear. She fell back in her seat--there he was: the
messenger of the foul fiend himself would have been more welcome at that
moment. Her blood rushed to her face and temples; her hands tingled; she
closed her eyes, and when she opened them, there stood the accursed
Nicholas glowering at her still.
"Man--man!" said she at length; "what do you mean, what do you want
Poor Nicholas, little guessing that the question was intended to throw a
doubt upon her acquaintance with him, and conceiving that the hour for
the announcement had come, hesitated for an instant how he should
designate the conveyance. He could not call it a coach! It certainly
was not a buggy--neither was it a jaunting car--what should he say--he
looked earnestly, and even imploringly at his mistress, as if to convey
some sense of his difficulty, and then, as it were, catching a sudden
inspiration, winked once more--as he said:--
"Miss Betty--the--the--the--," and here he looked indescribably droll;
"the thing, you know, is at the door."
All his Lordship's politeness was too little for the occasion, and Miss
O'Dowd's tenantry were lost to the Callonby interest for ever.
BOTANICAL STUDIES--THE NATURAL SYSTEM PREFERABLE TO THE LINNEAN.
"The carriage is at the door, my lord," said a servant, entering the
luncheon-room where we were all assembled.
"Now then, Mr. Lorrequer," said Lord Callonby, "allons, take another
glass of wine, and let us away. I expect you to make a most brilliant
His lordship here alluded to our intention of visiting a remote barony,
where a meeting of the freeholders was that day to be held, and at which
I was pledged for a "neat and appropriate" oration in abuse of the corn
laws and the holy alliance.
"I beg pardon, my lord," said her ladyship in a most languishing tone;
"but Mr. Lorrequer is pre-engaged; he has for the last week been
promising and deterring his visit to the new conservatory with me; where
he is to find out four or five of the Swiss shrubs that Collins cannot
make out--and which I am dying to know all about."
"Mr. Lorrequer is a false man then," said Lady Catherine, "for he said at
breakfast, that we should devote this afternoon to the chalk caves--as
the tide will be so far out, we can see them all perfectly."
"And I," said Lord Kilkee, "must put in my plea, that the aforesaid Mr.
Lorrequer is booked for a coursing match--'Mouche versus Jessie.'--Guilty
or not guilty?"
Lady Jane alone of all said not a word.
"Guilty on every count of the indictment," said I; "I throw myself on the
mercy of the court."
"Let his sentence then be banishment," said Lady Catherine with affected
anger, "and let him go with papa."
"I rather think," said Lord Kilkee, "the better plan is to let him visit
the conservatory, for I'd wager a fifty he finds it more difficult to
invent botany, than canvass freeholders; eh?"
"I am sure," said Lady Jane, for the first time breaking silence, "that
mamma is infinitely flattered by the proposal that Mr. Lorrequer's
company is to be conferred upon her for his sins."
"I am not to be affronted, nor quizzed out of my chaperon; here, Mr.
Lorrequer," said Lady Callonby rising, "get Smith's book there, and let
me have your arm; and now, young ladies, come along, and learn something,
if you can."
"An admirable proviso," said Lord Kilkee, laughing; "if his botany be
only as authentic as the autographs he gave Mrs. MacDermot, and all of
which he wrote himself, in my dressing-room, in half an hour. Napoleon
was the only difficult one in the number."
Most fortunately this unfair disclosure did not reach her ladyship's
ears, as she was busily engaged putting on her bonnet, and I was yet
unassailed in reputation to her.
"Good bye, then," said Lord Callonby; "we meet at seven;" and in a few
moments the little party were scattered to their several destinations.
"How very hot you have this place, Collins," said Lady Callonby as we
entered the conservatory.
"Only seventy-five, my lady, and the Magnolias require heat."
I here dropped a little behind, as if to examine a plant, and in a
half-whisper said to Lady Jane--
"How came it that you alone, Lady Jane, should forget I had made another
appointment? I thought you wished to make a sketch of Craigmoran Abbey
--did you forget that we were to ride there to-day?"
Before she could reply, Lady Callonby called out--"Oh, here it is, Mr.
Lorrequer. Is this a heath? that is the question."
Here her ladyship pointed to a little scrubby thing, that looked very
like a birch rod. I proceeded to examine it most minutely, while Collins
waited with all the intense anxiety of a man whose character depended on
"Collins will have it a jungermania," said she.
"And Collins is right," said I, not trusting myself with the
pronunciation of the awful word her ladyship uttered.
Collins looked ridiculously happy.
"Now that is so delightful," said Lady Callonby, as she stopped to look
for another puzzle.
"What a wretch it is," said Lady Catherine, covering her face with a
"What a beautiful little flower," said Lady Jane, lifting up the bell of
a "lobelia splendens."
"You know, of course," said I, "what they call that flower in France
"True, I assure you; may I present you with this sprig of it," cutting
off a small twig, and presenting it at the same instant unseen by the
She hesitated for an instant, and then extending her fair and taper hand
took it. I dared not look at her as she did so, but a proud swelling
triumph at my heart nearly choked me.
"Now Collins," said Lady Callonby, "I cannot find the Alpen tree I
brought home from the Grundenwald."
Collins hurried forward to her ladyship's side.
Lady Catherine was also called to assist in the search.
I was alone with Lady Jane.
"Now or never," thought I; I hesitated--I stammered--my voice faltered.
She saw my agitation; she participated in, and increased it. At last I
summoned up courage to touch her hand; she gently withdrew it--but so
gently, it was not a repulse.
"If Lady Jane," said I at length, "if the devoted--"
"Holloa, there," said a deep voice without; "is Mr. Lorrequer there?"
It was Lord Kilkee, returned from his coursing match. None but he who
has felt such an interruption, can feel for me. I shame to say that his
brotherhood to her, for whom I would have perilled my life, restrained me
not from something very like a hearty commendation of him to the powers
"Down, dogs, there--down," continued he, and in a moment after entered
the conservatory flushed and heated with the chace.
"Mouche is the winner--two to one--and so, Master Shallow, I owe you a
Would to heaven that I had lost the wager, had it only taken a little
longer to decide it! I of course appeared overjoyed at my dog's success,
and listened with great pretence of interest to the narrative of the
"run;" the more so, because that though perhaps more my friend than the
older members of the family, Lord Kilkee evidently liked less than them,
my growing intimacy with his sister; and I was anxious to blind him on
the present occasion, when, but for his recent excitement, very little
penetration would have enabled him to detect that something unusual had
It was now so nearly dark, that her ladyship's further search for the
alpine treasure became impossible, and so we turned our steps towards the
garden, where we continued to walk till joined by Lord Callonby. And now
began a most active discussion upon agriculture, rents, tithes, and
toryism, in which the ladies took but little part; and I had the
mortification to perceive that Lady Jane was excessively 'ennuyee', and
seized the first opportunity to leave the party and return to the house;
while her sister gave me from time to time certain knowing glances, as if
intimating that my knowledge of farming and political economy was pretty
much on a par with my proficiency in botany.
One has discovered me at least, thought I; but the bell had rung to dress
for dinner, and I hastened to my room to think over future plans, and
once more wonder at the singular position into which fate and the "rules
of the service" had thrown me.
PUZZLED--EXPLANATION--MAKES BAD WORSE--THE DEED
"Any letters?" said her ladyship to a servant, as she crossed the hall,"
"Only one, my lady--for Mr. Lorrequer, I believe."
"For me!" thought I; "how is this?" My letters had been hitherto always
left in Kilrush. Why was this forwarded here? I hurried to the
drawing-room, where I found a double letter awaiting me. The writing was
Curzon's and contained the words "to be forwarded with haste" on the
direction. I opened and read as follows:--
"Dear Lorrequer,--Have you any recollection, among your numerous
'escapades' at Cork, of having grievously insulted a certain Mr. Giles
Beamish, in thought, word, or deed? If you have, I say, let me know with
all convenient despatch, whether the offence be one admitting of apology
--for if not, the Lord have mercy on your soul--a more wrothy gentleman
than the aforesaid, it having rarely been my evil fortune to foregather
with. He called here yesterday to inquire your address, and at my
suggestion wrote a note, which I now enclose. I write in great haste,
and am ever yours faithfully, C. Curzon.
"N.B.--I have not seen his note, so explain all and every thing."
The inclosed letter ran thus:
"Sir,--It can scarcely have escaped your memory, though now nearly two
months since, that at the Mayor's 'dejeune' in Cork, you were pleased to
make merry at my expense, and expose me and my family for your amusement.
This is to demand an immediate apology, or that satisfaction which, as an
officer, you will not refuse your most obedient servant, Giles Beamish,
"Giles Beamish! Giles Beamish!" said I, repeating the name in every
variety of emphasis, hoping to obtain some clue to the writer. Had I
been appointed the umpire between Dr. Wall and his reviewers, in the late
controversy about "phonetic signs," I could not have been more completely
puzzled than by the contents of this note. "Make merry at his expense!"
a great offence truly--I suppose I have laughed at better men than ever
he was; and I can only say of such innocent amusement, as Falstaff did of
sack and sugar, if such be a sin, "then heaven help the wicked." But I
wish I knew who he is, or what he alludes to, provided he is not mad,
which I begin to think not improbable. By the bye, my Lord, do you know
any such person in the south as a Mr. Beamish--Giles Beamish?"
"To be sure," said Lord Callonby, looking up from his newspaper, "there
are several of the name of the highest respectability. One is an
alderman of Cork--a very rich man, too--but I don't remember his
"An alderman, did you say?"
"Yes. Alderman Beamish is very well known. I have seen him frequently